Reviewed May 2022.

As I review this post from twenty months ago, apart from a few corrections, mostly grammar, the principle remains that change may need to happen slowly due to the potential consequences rather than desire.

Whether your CRM is the best tool to handle your prospecting processes has been around for many years; in the last few years, as the growth in group-consensus buying has increased within businesses, the dynamics of why is for a different day.

The history of Customer Relationship Management is relatively new; the old manual recording of call sheets, card index and the collecting of compliment slips to justify the sales calls for the week has long passed. Integrated call records and multi-level customer records, linking eCommerce, email & video shots etc., are all part of the armoury.

These changes in prospecting are reasonably easy to overcome by the use of bolt-on programmes, of which there are now many; the challenge of group buying is coverable in most CRMs. However, the main weakness remains beyond the CRM with those responsible for inputting the data.

The perpetual failure or lack of willingness of businesses to invest in training and coaching those salespeople is not new. Still, for those who face a constant vortex of decision-makers, stakeholders, influencers, and users, NO Discussion Outcomes is 50%.

With the split between management tools and sales & marketing aids,  the team manager can now, at a glance, check on his team’s performance, regardless of the quality of the CRM features and old problems will continue.

Poor data entry degrades the value of the CRM.

Running a CRM will help you win business and manage your potential; however, it has many potential flaws built-in, and if you want and need success, you will need to cross the chasm of challenge.

A textbook definition

A CRM gathers customer interactions across all channels in one place. Managing centralised data helps businesses improve customer experience, satisfaction, retention and service.

Your CRM; the chasm of challenge

Running a good CRM can be your best and most valuable business tool, but it can also be your route to failure if it is flawed.

Some of its potential flaws in a CRM. (Customer Relationship Management).

  • The data entered can be over-optimistic.
  • The data entered can be incorrect.
  • The data entered can be incomplete.
  • The data can be out of date.
  • The CRM is constructed to start after the sales are made.
  • Recording of prospective customers leaves confusing gaps in the data fields.
  • The CRM data fields are written to focus on the discussion makes.

It’s important to remember a CRM is just a tool to do a job, and it might not be the best tool to give the best result.

The reality check question

If your CRM gets filled with flawed, corrupted or incorrect data, what’s the percentage drop in achieving the desired outcome?

Whose responsibility is it to ensure the CRM is accurate?

A manager’s role is laced with fear.

The senior managers & directorate work against a series of perceptions.

The Team manager:

  • The manager is committed to leading his people to achieve and exceed the target set.
  • The managers have the skills, knowledge, and understanding to manage the team to achieve the desired results.
  • As a manager, they can support their team.

In the header, I used the word perception; perception indicates foundations.

The problem comes when the appointment of a manager is based on assumption; appointing the top performer into the post of the team manager based on performance in one area is not an indicator that they will be a top performer in a different role.

Regretable, this is a common error in the world of sales, the assumption that the top sales guy would make a great sales manager is made based on assumption. The problem with assumptions is that there is nearly always a lack of appropriate foundations.

The corrupted CRM

How do you avoid the CRM from being filled with corrupt, incorrect and worthless data?

To do this, you need to establish the ground rules

  • Issue the ground rules to the team.
  • Make sure they all have a clear understanding of the rules.
  • Check that all the team members buy-in.

As all teams are a mix of individuals with different motivators and agendas, below are some examples of misalignment I have experienced.

  1. They liked to be rebellious; the rebel inside them liked to push back.
  2. Turning up and getting paid to attend was the only goal.
  3. They choose to go with presumption, as filling in the gaps was easier than revealing the holes in their skills.
  4. They believe that the management wanted numbers, so they exaggerated the potential.
  5. They don’t believe the management spends time checking reality against results.

Of all those examples above, the one I experienced that had the most damaging effect was number 1, The rebel. Over the years, I have worked with those that liked to see what they could get away with. In the same way, the outcome always ended in two ways: resignation or the sack.

It’s not only the sales industry that has Poets Day “P*** Off Home Early Tomorrow’s Saturday.” Slopping off early is about attitude and belief, and one thing the problem with the rebel is that it’s 24/7.

In the early part of my sales career, I was required, like so many others, to complete a log of my week’s activities and orders posted them each Friday in time for the last post to my manager for review on Monday; the completed forms carried the title of “Swindle sheets.”

We have moved from manual paper sheets and card indexes to integrated reporting and CRMs. In the early part of my sales career, I was required, like so many others, to complete a log of my week’s activities and orders posted each Friday in time for the last post; the completed forms carried the title of “Swindle sheets.”

The advantage of online digital entries is immense; the value of an instantly online time-centric saves huge amounts of time; many managers, due to pressure on resources, time and the competitive nature of today’s business, have stopped reading the fine detail of the entries and switched to a dashboard view.

And like the swindle sheets of yesteryear, what you see may not be reality.

The Dashboard

A Dashboard has the potential to become a view through rose coloured glasses.

A global view of what might come to pass?

Viewing the dashboard; in the same way, we look at the dashboard when driving a car, the gauges are only a representation of the effects as you apply pressure to the different pedals, the accelerator, the clutch and the brakes.

However, mixing up or using them incorrectly can be wasteful, costly or even cause a crash.

Of all the different potential agendas I’ve come across hidden within the dashboard view, the two below are the most common; the third is sometimes the result of a management belief told but never validated.

  1. Over-optimistic rather than realistic or pessimistic, mostly due to a lack of knowledge, training, ignorance or laziness.
  2. Data for data’s sake, muddled complexity, keen, enthusiastic and sometimes wildly ambitious.
  3. Their hungry, so their chase everything, leaving no stone unturned; the need for money due to financial instability is not a guarantee for success but rather a desperation.

 

The common causes of No 1 are common and well documented, but despite this, they still many CRMs

  • Failure to ask questions:  Not asking the needed questions; despite awareness that this always makes the difference between failure and success, not asking questions seems trivial, but the impact is significant.
  • It’s not about you, and it’s about them. One-sided sales conversation, the pitch dominates the ratio of who talks is lost.
  • Not listening to the prospect/customer:  The salesperson gets lost in the sound of their voice. Regardless of sales ability, role and level, the need is always the prospect’s property, not the seller.

Below are two quotes I have heard recently on Podcasts featuring conversations with enterprise-level buyers.

At my level as an Enterprise level buyer I know what we need, tall I keep seeing is sales people that keep pitching a constant reverberating on about what they have achieved or can do they just don’t seem to want to listen.

They are filled with presumption of what we need, theres days when I think that I am a horse they can take to water, then they get pushy when I dont want to drink.”

A salesperson’s view of the CRM that some own but few admit

Reasons to be cheerful No 1.

“They love what we have” – “The deals in the bag.”

We all like to feel wanted; salespeople are no different; hoping to hear or believe they hear what they need is commonplace.

Reasons to be cheerful No 2.

“I know that my CRM got a lot of errors and needs cleaning, but?”

It’s relatively easy to identify the issues and correct them in a CRM; however, most would prefer if the reality was exposed on someone else’s watch.

Reasons to be cheerful No 3.

“Yes, Rule 101 in Sales. There are no prizes in sales for coming in second.”

The longer the exaggerations, errors, and inflated numbers continue without challenge, then I will receive more paychecks.

KPIs

A performance indicator or key performance indicator (KPI) is a type of performance measurement; KPIs evaluate an organisation’s past successes or a particular activity (such as projects, programs, products, and other initiatives) in which it engages.  Wikipedia.org

 

Goals are often set against the business KPIs; i.e. a set number of presentations will result in the required revenue; you don’t have to be around business for long before you start hearing the words KPI; the exciting word is the ‘I’ for ‘indicator’; it is what it says on the rapper, an indicator of what might come to pass.

Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believ’d.

The Dashboard and the KPIs are interlinked as indicators and potential outcomes; the challenge happens when the data is flawed, corrupted or incorrect.

Changing the Outcomes

Measured against stats, not scaled against reality.

 Based on a scale of 1 to 10 principle is relatively still new to many.

The styling is now appearing in customer satisfaction surveys.

A few years back, the most likely place you will hear it used as if you were unfortunate to be in consultation with a medical practitioner. The scale is used to measure the pain you are experiencing; the scales help them prescribe the correct level of pain medication for you based on your pain threshold.

Implementing a process such as ‘Based on a scale of 1 to 10’ across a sales team, understandably for many sales managers, can be a problematic question fraught with danger.

 “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is the proposal to become an order.”

I have known several salespeople, a few sales managers and one sales director who would have avoided asking the question above.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it to become an order? Scaling has the potential to reduce the dashboard significantly; the result of wiping out several perceived opportunities from the dashboard can be harmful to anyone’s employment status.

Scaling

Who might like the “On a scale of 1 to 10.”

“The Houdini vanishing trick.”

A few years ago, the world of sales started coming up with two new quotes. “They have gone dark” and “Radio silent.”

The challenge for the brave and the payoff might be that if you asked the. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it to become an order?

The time and effort spent chasing those that just when you believed you were on the home straight, they go dark, or radio silent would be significantly reduced. They saved time by concentrating better on those with a better scale number.

Are you feeling brave?

My caveats

My first caveat: For those brave and venturous sales managers asking your salespeople the question “Based on a scale of 1 to 10”, The answers may require you to self prescribe your pain relief when the realities start to check in on the dashboard.

My second caveat: How and when might it be useful for sales managers? It’s probably not correct to use it with members of your established team as a negative reality outcome may damage both sides of the relationship; rather, start with caveat three first.

My third caveat: My advice is to use it on your new team members, as despite their dashboard stats looking initially slightly weaker in comparison to the established team members, however, when the measures turn to focus on the win rate, the view will switch.

Connecting the dots

For those that have not read or heard or are aware of the principle of crossing the gap, may I suggest Geoffrey A. Moore’s book ‘CROSSING THE CHASM’ although? If the focus is on bringing high-tech products into the larger marketplace, there is a crossover for all sales teams.

And when mixed with ‘The Golden Circle; an innovative concept by Simon Sinek.’ And how it plays into Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and your focusing on The ‘WHY’ as we are looking at best-fit customers to grow our business with our most important customers or clients.

Simon Sinek & Geoffrey A. Moore; The law of diffusion of innovation, with the bell curve, allows us to focus on creating a cultural transformation within your team, whether you’re in sales or marketing or a blend of both.

Marketing, like sales, has the potential to be flawed.

A few years back, at an event, I struck up a conversation with a marketing director that held a significant budget, and I asked him what I believed was a simple question.

How much of your marketing activities works?

His reply.

“About 50%,”

He then continued with,

“The problem is that we don’t know what 50% works?”

After all, if you in marketer asking yourself. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is this email to get read by the target? Or On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is a video to get seen by the target group?

It is no different to sales asking itself. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it to become an order?

The only definable difference is Results ‘V’ Budget.

Transition

I believe in sales and marketing working together as one, ‘SMARKETING’, regardless of whether they joined or run as separate segments of an organisation, regardless of operating against a budget or measured against results. Success guarantees employment.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it?

As in the principle of the bell curve, a sales team or marketing team acts similarly; they all have a few pessimists, optimists, and pragmatists mixed in for good measure.

The Innovators in the team are on a constant search for better ways to do what is being done with less time, effort and cost. They may not always achieve the desired result, but being the opposite as a laggard, forced to adopt when there are no other options, is the position of no choice.

Caveat three is the only viable choice for established teams; a slow, focused change through the team’s new members protects the statute and avoids exposure; there is even potential praise when the transition is complete.

Change from the top down requires the application of authority, whilst change from the bottom up requires only motivation and belief.

Ultimately, stimulating the sales or marketing team, innovators, the early adopters, the early majority is down to the manager; the late majority have the opportunity to join in rather than try to mitigate their results.